Buck Clayton

Philharmonic Blues

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Nine cuts of Buck Clayton in various settings provide the body of work that Charly presents here in its typical muddied-sound retrospective glory. The first two dates, recorded in 1946, place Clayton in the company of drummer J.C. Heard, Curly Russell on bass, and pianist Kenny Kersey, with either Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins providing the tenor elegance. It's the first date -- comprised of five cuts with Hawkins and Illinois Jacquet -- that really rings here, and includes killer versions of "I Can't Get Started" and "Sweet Georgia Brown." The second date, with Young, guitarist John Collins, and trombonist Trummy Young, includes a fine version of "I Got Rhythm." The final date, from 1947 and again with Hawkins, also includes Flip Phillips, Young, Buddy Rich, and altoist Willie Smith. The ten-plus-minute "How High the Moon" is the certain highlight, though "Bell Boy Blues" is nothing to sneer at. For Clayton enthusiasts who don't already have this material, the music is pure magic despite the rather dodgy sound.

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